New tapings: Parker Millsap, CeCe Winans and Alejandro Escovedo

photo by Laura Partain

Austin City Limits closes out a remarkable Season 42 on a high note with the final artist tapings: Parker Millsap on November 9, CeCe Winans on November 20 and Alejandro Escovedo on November 30.  St. Paul and the Broken Bones will also tape a show on November 20, as previously announced.

Following a triumphant appearance on this year’s Americana Music Festival special, singer/songwriter Parker Millsap makes his Austin City Limits debut in support of his third album The Very Last Day. The 23-year-old grew up doing congregational singing in church and listening to old blues albums in his room, not realizing that howling like a Delta blues ghost readying the world for rock & roll isn’t how a skinny white boy from Purcell, Oklahoma usually sounds. The Very Last Day proves an ideal vehicle for Millsap’s message, delivered via gospel-tinged rock & roll poetry. In the midst of a world fond of condemnation as entertainment, Millsap offers open-armed love of people and their stories. Whether he’s singing about the experience of a gay friend, longing for his evangelical father’s acceptance, or as the King of the Underworld wild with passion, his character-driven songs mine deep wells of joy and despair to create gut-punching narratives that are sometimes hellish, sometimes heavenly, and always human. We’re happy to welcome Parker Millsap to his first Austin City Limits taping.

Part of gospel’s first family the Winans, CeCe Winans is the best-selling female gospel artist of all time. The Detroit native made her performing debut with her brother BeBe in 1982 as part of the PTL Singers. The pair launched their career as a duo in 1987, releasing bestselling albums that earned them gold and platinum albums, three Grammy awards, nine Dove awards and numerous hit singles on the R&B charts. CeCe began her solo career in 1995 with the Grammy-winning platinum album Alone in His Presence, scored a top 10 single in “Count On Me,” a duet with close friend Whitney Houston, and has continued to have an impact on gospel and R&B music ever since. She comes to the ACL stage bearing latest single “Never Have to Be Alone,” as well as new songs from a forthcoming record to be released in 2017. We’re thrilled to welcome the great CeCe Winans to her first Austin City Limits, where she will share the stage with dynamic Alabama soul outfit St. Paul & the Broken Bones.  

photo by Nancy Rankin Escovedo

Veteran Austin singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo returns to our stage in support of Burn Something Beautiful, his twelfth solo album. Recorded in Portland with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey as co-writers and producers, Burn Something Beautiful is at once a celebration of the rock & roll life, a contemplation of mortality and a tribute to the healing power of love. The project coalesced beautifully with the help of an esteemed group of musicians who give the album a band feel, including ACL vets Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Kelly Hogan (Neko Case), John Moen (the Decemberists) and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney). Connecting repeatedly with his soulful heart and voice at its core, Burn Something Beautiful is Alejandro Escovedo at his very best. The San Antonio native is, of course, no stranger to ACL – he has been on the show four times previously, starting as a member of Rank & File when they appeared on the show in 1983. We’re thrilled to welcome back Alejandro Escovedo.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: St. Paul and the Broken Bones 11/20

photo by David McClister

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a new taping with rising soul/rock stars St. Paul and the Broken Bones on November 20.    

Formed in 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama, the sextet hits the ACL stage in support of its new album Sea of Noise. Recorded in Nashville with producer Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, Devendra Banhart), the LP is a successor to the Broken Bones’ 2013 debut album Half the City, which introduced the group’s blazing mating of ‘60s soul fire – daubed with latter-day influences like Sly Stone, David Bowie, and Prince — to frontman Paul Janeway’s impassioned singing and writing. The new album witnesses a deepening and broadening of the unit’s musical reach and lyrical concerns, including strings arranged by legendary Stax Records arranger Lester Snell and words influenced by Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy. The album’s lyrical and emotional richness is heard loudly in stunning new compositions like “Burning Rome” (which Janeway describes as “a letter to God, if I could write it”) and the startling “I’ll Be Your Woman,” which knocks traditional soul music gender roles on their heads. Of the finished work, Janeway says, “Sea of Noise is not quite a full-blown concept record. It is focused in terms of subject matter – finding redemption and salvation and hope.” Hot off gigs opening for the Rolling Stones and a slot at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, St. Paul and the Broken Bones brings their take-no-prisoners live show to our studio for what promises to be a memorable ACL debut.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Cyndi Lauper

photo by Chapman Baehler

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a new taping with a pop culture icon: the one and only Cyndi Lauper. We’ll be taping this special performance on Friday, Sept. 9th.

The New York native scarcely needs any introduction. She’s a two-time Grammy-winning, multi-platinum selling singer and songwriter with a string of instantly recognizable hits: “True Colors,” “She Bop,” “I Drove All Night,” “Change of Heart,” “Time After Time” and, of course, the immortal “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” She’s also a recent Tony-winning Broadway composer for the smash musical Kinky Boots as well as an Emmy-winning actress for her role on Mad About You. Her current project, however, blazes a new trail. Detour, her eleventh album, takes an unexpected Southern turn, as Lauper puts her signature spin on a dozen country classics. Detour showcases Lauper’s unmistakable voice on tunes from the 40s, 50s and 60s, and features guest performances from some of country music’s finest: Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson. She recorded the album in Nashville alongside a band comprised of the city’s top session players. “When I was a really young kid, country music was pop music, so this is what we grew up listening to,” Lauper says. “These songs are part of some of my earliest memories.” Magnet calls the record “a great showcase for Lauper’s vocal range and prowess,” while Uncut asserts that “she flexes both empathy and interpretive might.” People says “that New Yawk spunk and those frisky, agelessly girlish vocals are…even more charming when paired with a steel guitar’s whine.” Lauper will showcase both Detour and her catalog of hits in an ACL performance sure to be one for the ages.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits is delighted to announce the return of an ACL favorite: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. Revered singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harper is set to return to the ACL stage on Thursday, September 1st, 2016. Harper will be joined by The Innocent Criminals, who recently teamed with Harper to release, Call It What It Is, their first record together in nine years.

Since his 1994 debut, Ben Harper has amassed worldwide acclaim as a genre-spanning singular talent with an unmatched ability to blend the personal and political. The Innocent Criminals – percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles and keyboardist Jason Yates – reunited with Harper for a tour in 2015, but quickly discovered that he had more in mind than simply revisiting the group’s prodigious collection of hits. In fact, Harper had been quietly amassing material for a new record with his long-time band mates. “I thought we would be more energized and revitalized by thinking outside the box and starting with new material in the studio before we dug into the old stuff,” explains Harper. “It was meant to be a signpost that we’re here to forge new ground musically and personally. Because of that, the older material started to sound brand new too.”

Released via the legendary Stax Records in April 2016, Call It What It Is explores themes of deep cultural and emotional resonance. Plaudits have poured in from around the world. Uncut called the album “a well-honed primer in what Harper does best, fusing blues, rock, folk, country, R&B, gospel and reggae with politically conscious lyrics into a dynamic stew.” And Entertainment Weekly raved, “A welcome homecoming…his most diverse collection in years. Grade: A-.”

“I gave everything I could to it,” says Harper. “To be able to say that we’ve left no stone unturned just feels great.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Grupo Fantasma and Hayes Carll

GF_2016_press1-hires

Austin City Limits welcomes back two true Texas originals: Grupo Fantasma on June 28  & Hayes Carll on August 30.

Although Austin’s music scene changes constantly and rapidly, one band that endures and continues to evolve is the Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma, who first appeared on ACL in Season 33 in 2007 and returned for 2015’s Hall of Fame Ceremony.  Last year marked the 15th anniversary of the powerhouse Latin funk outfit’s first show and the release of their widely-acclaimed sixth album Problemas.  Longtime favorites of music icon Prince, the band served as his on-call backing band for many years, appearing with the superstar on stages from Coachella to the Golden Globes.  Praised as one of the most important independent acts in the Latin genre, they are widely known for their energetic live shows, which NPR describes as “seamless…whenever and wherever they’re on stage.” For Problemas, the nine-piece band decided to break from their DIY tradition of self produced albums. The band approached Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, someone they knew would be a well-seasoned and sympathetic producer and, as a fan, eager to work with them. Berlin states,”I see Grupo Fantasma as a bar-setter, not just for Latin music but in popular culture. Their effortless ability to shift from being one of the finest Latin bands around to one of the baddest funk bands alive and back is a rare and beautiful thing. The record we set out to make was our effort to codify that idea, and I think we succeeded. These guys are the absolute best at what they do.” This special taping will also include performances from the band’s all-funk alter ego Brownout and founding former member Adrian Quesada.

photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

“A wry Texas troubadour with a knack for crooked grace and a clever turn of phrase” (New York Times), singer/songwriter Hayes Carll returns for his second appearance, having first graced the ACL stage in Season 36 in 2010. The recipient of two Song of the Year awards, including the Americana Music Association’s for “She Left Me For Jesus” in 2008 and American Songwriter for “Another Like You,” in 2011, the Woodlands native picked up a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Country Song via LeeAnn Womack’s recording of his “Chances Are.” All of these experiences were just the warm up, however, for Lovers and Leavers, an album Paste calls “the finest of his career.” Produced by Grammy-award winning producer and musician Joe Henry (Glen Hansard, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt), the 10-track album was recorded live over five days in L.A. during the winter of 2015. Of the album, which was partially inspired by his own life, Carll reveals, “I didn’t have one song that I knew would be a sing along or would make people dance. I felt vulnerable in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. But I got what I wanted – a record with space, nuance, and room to breathe. It felt right for my art. It felt right for my life. Lovers and Leavers isn’t funny or raucous. There are very few hoots and almost no hollers. But it is joyous, and it makes me smile.” The Austin Chronicle calls it “a startlingly personal set of songs, powerfully stripped back from the raucous, clever narratives that have been Carll’s hallmark.” Lonestar Music enthuses that the album “perfectly captures the phases and stages of falling apart, facing the truth, falling in love and facing the fear and finding one’s heart in the process,” concluding that Lovers and Leavers is “tentative, doubtful, shaky, mournful and yes, wonderstruck.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Paul Simon

photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the first-ever appearance by music legend Paul Simon, who is set to tape his ACL debut on Thursday, May 12th, 2016.

An artist whose work has had a profound effect on music and culture, Simon is one of the most successful and respected songwriters in popular music history.  Almost thirty years since the release of his landmark album Graceland, Simon continues his musical and sonic exploration on his highly anticipated 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which is set for release via Concord Records on June 3rd, 2016. Produced by Simon and longtime musical partner Roy Halee, Stranger to Stranger is full of thrilling textures that feel fresh and modern, while still offering subtle and artful allusions to our shared musical past. “Its about making music that sounds old and new at the same time – music with a sense of mystery,” Simon explains of the new album, his first new studio recording since 2011’s widely acclaimed So Beautiful or So What.  “Sound is the theme of this album as much as it’s about the subjects of the individual songs. If people get that, I’ll be pleased.  The right song at the right time can live for generations. A beautiful sound – well, that’s forever.”

We can’t wait for this historic appearance, as we welcome Paul Simon to the ACL stage for the very first time.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: James Bay and Andra Day

Courtesy of Republic Records

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a pair of new tapings: British folk-rock sensation James Bay on April 12 and soul singer Andra Day on June 12.

Coming off three 2016 Grammy nominations and a recent BRIT Award win for Best Male Solo Artist, singer-songwriter-guitarist James Bay is busily conquering the States with his debut LP Chaos and the Calm. Recorded in Nashville with producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, R.E.M.), the album went to #1 in the U.K and top 15 in the U.S. and produced the breakout hits “Let It Go” and “Hold Back the River.” The 25-year-old began playing music at age 11, growing up in the London suburb of Hitchin, strumming along to his parents’ Van Morrison and Derek & the Dominos records. At 18, Bay moved to the seaside city of Brighton to study music and hit every open mic night he could. When a fan recorded one of his performances it caught the attention of Republic Records, who signed him in 2013. Since then Bay has gone on to perform at iconic festivals including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits Festival and more. Internationally, Chaos And The Calm has gone on to become one of the “Biggest New Artist Album Releases of 2015” and has been certified Gold in Australia & Switzerland, double platinum in the UK and has sold one over million albums worldwide. Currently in the midst of a sold-out Stateside headlining tour, Bay makes his Austin City Limits debut on April 12. You can enter our drawing for passes to this taping here

photo by Myriam Santos

Singer and songwriter Andra Day also turned heads at this year’s Grammys, performing her uplifting song “Rise Up” from her Grammy-nominated debut album Cheers to the Fall.  With a vintage flair and a voice for the ages, Day proved she’s ready to take her place in the pantheon of soulful vocalists and deliver her truth to the world. Her acclaimed debut, Cheers to the Fall, produced by heavyweight soul man Raphael Saadiq, is self-described as “a biography told in the form of music,” with themes centered on truth, fearlessness, vulnerability, forgiveness and love. The Boston Globe says, “This confident, stylish pop R&B record ushers in a sophisticated vocalist who faithfully reflects past influences while remaining contemporary and relevant,” and Vibe raves, “The beauty in Andra’s art is that the message applies to all. All we need to do is listen.” Singing in the church choir and studying, dance, theater and music at San Diego’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, Day always knew she wanted to sing professionally. She was performing in local nightclubs when none other than Stevie Wonder discovered her.

Day then filmed a series of popular YouTube clips, including a mashup of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, which caught the attention of Warner Bros. Records and led to a record deal. Known for her standout live performances, Day is currently on a U.S. tour, including upcoming dates with ACL alum Leon Bridges and a performance at this year’s Bonnaroo on deck.  Join us in welcoming Andra Day in her ACL debut on June 12.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Robert Plant, Rhiannon Giddens and Florence + the Machine

photo by Frank Melfi

Austin City Limits is proud to announce three new tapings. Singer and songwriter Robert Plant, returns to our stage for the first time in more than a decade on March 21, singer/multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens makes her ACL debut on April 25 and rock stars Florence + the Machine come back for their second visit on May 20 .

Plant travels to ACL with his band The Sensational Space Shifters as part of his “Southern Journey,” visiting the “places that gave birth to so much of the music I love,” with a select run of live dates dubbed the “Blues…Roots and Hollers” tour. The music icon celebrates the American South as a continuation of the eclectic soulful journey he began since leaving Led Zeppelin decades ago. He has spent many years exploring Americana music and America itself, traveling though the U.S. and collaborating with roots musicians, including Alison Krauss for 2009’s six-time Grammy-winning album Raising Sand.  Plant’s acclaimed 10th solo album, 2014’s lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, combines his love of everything from American country blues and rockabilly to British folk, Moroccan trance music and West African griot into a vision all his own.  Joined by the diverse, versatile six-piece band The Sensational Space Shifters, Plant adds, “Having just begun work on our new album, we thought we’d take time out to raise a little sand and welcome springtime with one more adventure, another celebration of life and song.”  

photo by Dan Winters

Rhiannon Giddens makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut performing tracks from her release Tomorrow Is My Turn, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album. The widely acclaimed album, produced by T Bone Burnett, marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade in the string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Rolling Stone calls the debut “a spiritual archaeology of American racial and economic struggle via sublime covers of songs identified with Nina Simone, Patsy Cline and Elizabeth Cotten.”  Reviving, interpreting, and recasting traditional material from a variety of sources has been central to Giddens’ career.  The Piedmont, NC native’s work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops has investigated and promoted the foundational role African-American artists have played in folk-music history, while making recordings that are vital, contemporary, and exuberant. With her solo album Tomorrow Is My Turn, the classically trained singer has embarked on a more personal sort of journey, but with a nod towards history as well. She’s chosen from a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears for an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a tribute to these artists and their legacies. Through the process of creating this album with a disparate set of musicians and practically a century’s worth of songs, she also illustrates the democratic way American music has taken shape and evolved: “The strength of American music is in bringing all these things together—Celtic, gospel, jazz, folk—all these things that make American music great,” she says. “Putting them side by side and having a production that pulls it all into a cohesive whole shows how related all these things are.” We’re thrilled to follow her journey for her ACL debut on Apr. 25.

photo by Tom Beard

Florence + the Machine had a gigantic 2015, seeing the release of her first U.S. #1 album How Big How Blue How Beautiful and nominations for five Grammy Awards. Released to extensive critical acclaim and named to year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, NPR Music, SPIN, American Songwriter, Consequence of Sound and more, the album landed Welch on Coachella’s main stage in a standout performance, bookings all over TV and in front of her biggest audiences thus far. Written and recorded over the course of 2014 and produced by Markus Dravs (Björk, Arcade Fire, Coldplay), the album follows Florence’s globally acclaimed Lungs (2009) and Ceremonials (2011). Called “Florence Welch’s most personal, vulnerable and moving album to date” by Rolling Stone, How Big How Blue How Beautiful reached #1 in the U.K. (her third #1 album in the country), Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and Canada after reaching the top spot on iTunes charts in 24 countries worldwide. The album features the massive hit “Ship to Wreck,” which Fader calls “the best song of her career” and The Daily Beast calls “a testament to her ability to straddle pop and rock, convention and alternative.” As anyone who saw Florence’s previous appearance on ACL knows, her taping will present, as Entertainment Weekly puts it, “an outsize physical presence who doesn’t so much sing as emit deeply emoted sounds out of some wellspring of the collective unconscious who commanded her space and demanded undivided attention.” We’re happy to welcome back Florence + the Machine on May 20.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.